(Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
As the countdown continues for my upcoming Swiss ski trip, I have found some more interesting materials in the archives. This time, the pictures are from my visits to the remote Swiss town of Scuol in the winters of 2004 and 2006.
There is something to be said for letting one’s destination be a bit of a mystery. I didn’t know anything about Scuol (pronounced “Shkwoal”) when I arrived there in March of 2004 for a Swiss Abroad ski camp. It’s certainly not a place that I would ever have selected on my own: the ski area does not have an international reputation.
But what a pleasant surprise! Instead of being an international resort where English was commonplace, Scuol was located deep in the Rumantsch-speaking region of Switzerland’s Graubünden canton. With its narrow streets, unusual architecture, and highly distinctive regional cuisine, it was unlike any other winter resort I had previously visited. And it was literally at the “end of the line”: the train could go no further.
As you can see from the photos, the lack of international visitors is no reflection on the skiing: one of the pistes (the “Traumpiste”, or “Dream Slope”) continued for more than 10 km from the top of the resort to the nearby village of Sent. The ski area’s vertical drop was in excess of 5000 feet. And yet, we rarely encountered any other skiers: everybody you see pictured on the slopes is part of the ski camp.
I enjoyed Scuol so much that I returned to the region with my wife in the summer of 2006 and celebrated the Swiss National Day in the village of Sent. I hope to write about our summer visit in a future post.
It is always a pleasure to discover a place like Scuol that has avoided mass international recognition. This is what we’re hoping for in the summer of 2018. We usually plan these summer trips well in advance and, several months ago, thought that we had found a great destination in southern Africa. We even bought a guidebook and had blocked off the provisional dates off in our calendar. As far as we were concerned, it was just a question of booking the flights when the airfares hit the “sweet spot”.
However, travel does not take place in a bubble. Due to a number of external factors, including the political uncertainty in nearby Zimbabwe, we reluctantly decided to put this destination on hold. The timing just wasn’t right.
As a result, the search for our summer destination is once again underway. Looking at the pictures of Scuol, my desire to go somewhere off the beaten path was affirmed: not only are such places fun, but they are also highly advisable during the summer when prices and crowds are onerous in high-profile destinations. I’m watching the airfares closely and will pounce on the next opportunity. Stay tuned for the details!